“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
As part of my scripture reading, I like to read the Proverb of the day. (There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, so I read the chapter that corresponds with the day of the month.) Today’s chapter started with a verse that I am trying very hard to implement in my life and teach to my children.
Some days it seems as if the bickering and arguing is constant. One child makes a snide remark, the next responds in anger hurting the other’s feelings, and soon you have them seeing who can outdo each other with the loudest and most hurtful words. If the child who was the recipient of the original remark had responded with something that had diffused the situation rather than adding fuel to the fire, there would have been a quick end to the bickering and fewer feelings hurt.
When we allow ourselves to raise our voices in anger, it very often breeds more anger. The blood pressure goes up, our voices get louder, the anger increases, the ability to think clearly decreases, and the cycle continues. When I was in the 7th grade, I had an English teacher who told us that she and her husband had decided early in their marriage that they would lower their voices instead of raise them if they were angry. She said that you could tell when they were really angry because their voices were so low that you could hardly hear them. Rather than emotionally tuning each other out, they were more likely to pay attention to what the other person was saying because they had to really listen to them. The result was that their anger was not escalated by the sheer adrenaline produced by shouting, and they were able to work through things much more reasonably and quickly. Their home sounded a lot more peaceful, but it truly WAS a lot more peaceful, too!
As a mom, there are MANY things throughout the day that get on my nerves, and some of those things make me angry. Do I respond harshly, or do I try to calm the atmosphere with a soft answer? I am afraid that I have been guilty of yelling far too many times. I know from experience, however, that yelling lowers my clear-headedness and either induces feelings of rebellion in the child being yelled at or causes them to withdraw. While there are times when it may be appropriate to raise my voice, more often than not it only makes matters worse. On the other hand, if I practice lowering my voice, I am able to stay more in control of my emotions and speak more logically and KINDLY, and my words very often get through more effectively.
Now if only I could be consistent in giving soft answers, maybe my children would finally learn how to do so, too!